We all have a different relationship with our finances and how it shapes our interactions with the world around us – from savings and income to expenses, loans and investments. Therefore, we all have inherently different and typically emotional relationships with our shopping habits and decision-making processes. This, in turn, affects the brands we support, services we use, stores we visit, and causes we align with or contribute to.
Tech companies are playing an increasingly important role, with a unique ability to highlight the different nuances in consumer identity, how they express themselves and how they present themselves, and to enable impact-based decision-making. Given the growing consumer demand for transparency, technical products should encourage empathic understanding and an approach to humanizing experiences based on values and multiple interfaces.
There is significant overlap in consumption patterns between consumers, especially those with similar hobbies, economic privileges, or shared political views, often defined by a combination of the world around them and what they see or do online. This could include word of mouth among friends, pop culture, trending IG accounts and social influencers, regional brands, or tendencies passed down within your family.
However, consumers have become picky about experiences, goods and services that appeal to them and let them pronounce in their unique world. This could mean supporting a B Corp brand or 1% for the Planet movements, being wary of climate pledges and carbon footprints, and preferring to invest their hard-earned money in businesses owned by black women, for example, or a combination from all of the above.
It’s no surprise that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of both the good and bad in the world around them that this extends to the decision-making process of how or where to put their money.
Technology is helping to transform shopping behavior in ways that are already happening in micro-communities to become more targeted, sustainable and impactful. One such implementation is the creation, maintenance and aggregation of community-controlled databases.
The effort involved in creating and maintaining such lists is difficult. It takes a large team of moderators, researchers, or a community of ambassadors to get an up-to-date database of contextual information about everyday businesses and brands. However, with the advent of community ambassadors who, for example, contribute to Google Maps reviews, the average consumer is becoming an investigator or analyst for the operations of a particular organization. This leads dedicated consumers to graduate from the days of Yelp reviews to determine whether or not a company is wheelchair accessible, adheres to COVID-19 safety practices, or recycles their leftovers at the end of the day (hello, Too Good To Go!). . Engaged consumers prefer to be involved in defining the businesses and the world around them – and giving them the opportunity to contribute is a central pillar of scaling impact-based tech companies today.
As we see this evolving today is the creation of community-involved moderation practices that are essentially mirrored as discovery filters that allow us to shop, visit, and support organizations ticking our contextual boxes that required for a specific person to proceed with the purchase. Today’s generations, rising in experience and purchasing power positions, not only demand the context, but also Convenience in every area of their daily life and this is reflected in the way they discover new brands, shops or services. Think Spotify Discover channels, but for “experiences in the world around you that you might be interested in,” with additional layers like ownership, sustainability, or impact.
Tech companies, and directories in particular, need to employ strategies with objective, non-judgmental, inclusive, and participatory products that allow people to be more engaged or in control of how they interact with the world around them – on their own terms . There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach as technology, human behavior, and innovative new businesses are capable of rapidly changing industry dynamics. However, if one is not anchored in a company’s vision of its “users”, a state of paralysis can develop that leads to the neglect of all basic support for niche consumers. The idea is to go beyond the traditional marketing approach – using demographic personas – and create more proactive foundations by building building blocks around richer identity overlaps, causal contexts and ethical values.
The companies, brands or platforms that think about how they could empower niche subcultures and support intersectionality on a large scale will ultimately be the ones that win the trust and approval of modern consumers. This is a vision that needs to be internalized from the start, focusing on humanity and social signals, as opposed to a traditional focus on the end result.
Let’s change the bottom line from predatory advertising strategies and revenue to inclusion and transparency.
About the author: Steffan Pedersen is currently a project manager at Meemo, a social finance company working to connect your financial footprint with the world around you.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.